Archive for the ‘History’ Category

The Eventual Price of a 1923 Ruth Bat

March 7, 2019


Babe Ruth Bat Used
1st Yankee Stadium HR
April 18, 1923
Later Sold for $1.265 Million

On April 18, 1923, the New York Yankees played their first game in history at the brand new Yankee Stadium in The Bronx before a home crowd of 74,200. Would Babe Ruth help christen the place as “The House That Ruth Built” with one of his newly fashioned deadball-air-clearing home runs? It didn’t take long to get an answer.

In the bottom of the 3rd inning, facing Boston Red Sox starter Howard Ehmke, with 2 on and 2 out, Ruth unloaded the first home run in Yankee Stadium history. The Yankees went on to win the game, 4-1, in 2 hours and 5 minutes.

The linked article reports the historic first Yankee Stadium home run bat by Babe Ruth in these terms:


Ruth had given the bat to the Los Angeles Evening Herald, and Victor Orsatti won it in a high school home run-hitting contest sponsored by the newspaper. Ruth inscribed on the bat, “To the Boy Home Run King of Los Angeles ‘Babe’ Ruth, N.Y. May 7, 1923.”

Upon his death in the early 1980s, Orsatti gave the bat to his caretaker, who chose SCP Auctions as a partner in the marketing and sale of the bat and to prove that it was indeed the one used to hit the first home run in old Yankee Stadium. Accompanying the bat is a congratulatory telegram Orsatti received from “The Babe.”

After the bat spent 80 years in hiding, SCP Auctions was given the opportunity to showcase and feature the bat in a New York auction in 2004, when it sold for $1.265 million.


One has to wonder. ~ How much of the $1.265 million dollar sale price actually went to the Orsatti caretaker heir? ~ And how much went to the SCP Auctions company that made the sale possible? ~ And how much did Uncle Sam allow them both to keep? ~ What was the point of the bat’s new acquirement by new ownership? ~ And where is the bat today? ~ Is it on public display anywhere ~ Or is it squirreled away in another dark, secure place? ~ And is it just the power point of ego that drives this hobby to this level of art in big business? ~ And is knowing that one is the power-driven possessor of a special thing like a famous bat the force that drives collectors on this level? ~ Or is it simply another playful version of whoever’s got the most money wins the game?



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher



Was the Fate of Ruth’s Leaner Bat This Bleak?

March 6, 2019

Babe Ruth’s Last Uniformed Appearance
June 13, 1948

On June 13, 1948, two months and three days prior to his death from cancer on August 16, 1948, Babe Ruth made his last uniformed appearance in Yankee Stadium, along with a number of other survivors of the 1923 club that were there for that first Yankee club to play in the stadium on their way to that first World Series championship so long ago.

The high-flying Cleveland Indians were the opposition that June day in 1948 ~ and with Bob Feller pitching ~ but it was the beloved Babe Ruth that 49,641 fans had come to see ~ in full awareness of his current cancer struggle ~ and just to be in his living presence ~ at least ~ one more time.

The Babe didn’t disappoint. When he finally made his solitary last field appearance from the then third base Yankee dugout, he was wearing that familiar number “3” on the back of his jersey and, even though he looked and moved a little frail from the disease, his face lit up in a smile at the sound of the crowd’s roar of approval over his presence one last time.

It was the day of that famous photo of Babe Ruth from behind ~ standing still and leaning on a bat as he looked out at the throng and the beckoning grandeur of his setting there in the stadium ~ and in baseball history.

The “leaner” bat made the picture what it is ~ and what it is today is ~ dramatically unforgettable.

And yet, the Yankees weren’t terrifically far-thinkers in planning this entry. Babe had not brought a bat to lean upon, nor had the Yankees supplied him with one that included instructions on how he should use it for appearances’ sake. Babe just needed one to use as a cane that might prevent him from a stumble or fall that could cause great harm and itself become the picture of the day for all time.

A close baseball friend told me yesterday that it was Bob Feller of the Indians who quickly responded to Babe’s need and got him a bat from Indians first sacker Eddie Robinson to use in the entry. I’m not sure how Feller was the most accessible person to the need ~ given the fact that Ruth was coming in from the Yankee side of things. but that’s only one thing I could not unscramble on a quick Google search for clarification.

My reason for writing even this much about a famous moment on short notice is tied up in what my SABR colleague told me about the eventual fate of that Robinson-owned, Ruth-revered bat. What happened to the bat was so flat-out disgusting that I decided to simply write this piece this morning. My friend has the option of either joining in with the search or remaining anonymous. Surely someone like Paul Rogers of SMU ~ or Eddie Robinson himself ~ knows the whole truth.

My friend and I both realize that what I’m reporting here may be partially to wholly wrong. Please help us clarify and specify the truth ~ by your own documented account ~ or by reference to something that is published and available to those seeking evidentiary documentation or testimony in the matter.

My Understanding. Apparently, after the Yankee Stadium day in June of 1948, the bat was returned to Eddie Robinson and remained in his possession for a period of some time. Then it supposedly moves back into the hands of Bob Feller and is placed on exposition at some kind of midwestern baseball museum for several years. Then something causes the bat to be made available for purchase and is bought by someone ~ from whom we don’t know ~ by some kind of collector/entrepreneur ~ who puts the bat up for sale to the general public ~ wood sliver by wood sliver ~ to those who wish to buy a piece of baseball history. To the best of our limited and totally undocumented knowledge, and at prices we have no idea about, the famous Ruth “loaner/leaner” bat stayed for sale until every last sliver of profit was drubbed from its wooden heart.

My Take on the Wood-Sliver Sale. If the bat wasn’t sold to a fast buck artist ~ if it went back to Eddie Robinson ~ then I say Eddie Robinson had a right to do anything he wanted with the bat that was his in the first place. I’d still hope that he would have found a way to keep it in one piece for history’s sake.

On the other hand, if it were what it appears to have been, that the bat was acquired by a fast buck artist and then converted into a sliver-sale, the whole thing makes me want to throw up. The “entrepreneur” that did this serial deal, if it really happened, deserves all the respect we once reserved exclusively for chewing tobacco spittoons.

As for people who are willing to pay good money for wood-sliver pieces of an old bat, we say go for it! ~ We get what we deserve by our willingness to trust ourselves to the kindness of strangers. And, by the way, I hear that there are still a few barber shops in far west Louisiana that still have a few locks of hair from the head of Clyde Barrow for sale.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher



M Kates’ SABR Books, Part 1

March 4, 2019


AKA: M Kates’ SABR BOOKS, Part 1

(Part I: 2001 to 2007)

By Maxwell Kates

Maxwell Kates










It’s the most wonderful time of the year. (Tax season!)

First of all, it occurred to me that one of my earlier columns contained an error worth exorcizing. One year when the Blue Jays were in the playoffs, Harold Reynolds admonished Canadians for our inability to catch foul balls. I would most certainly support that stereotype. We’re equally skilled at missing players in columns about Astros Hall of Famers. I missed Ivan Rodriguez, who played briefly for the Astros in 2009 and was inducted into Cooperstown in 2017. Pudge hit his 300th career home run in a Houston uniform at Wrigley Field off the Cubs’ Rich Harden (now there’s a Canadian – he may have even caught a foul ball or two).

Ivan Rodriguez and Greg Lucas

Last year at this time, I wrote a two-part essay for the Pecan Park Eagle about twelve reasons to attend a SABR convention. This year, I am also writing about SABR conventions, but this article is about books associated with the twelve I have attended. After preparing a short review of each of the twelve books, I relate it back to the convention in order to justify the association. Now “books associated with SABR conventions” are not necessarily the same as “books on the history of the team from the host city.” There is one team history but otherwise the books are drawn from genres as diverse as biography, fiction, law, and even a couple that are not about baseball. So without further interruption, may I introduce to you the SABR convention bookshelf.


SABR 31 – Milwaukee, WI – 2001

Down in the Valley

For the 2001 SABR convention, the first I attended, I have selected Down in the Valley: The History of Milwaukee County Stadium by Gregg Hoffmann. First authorized in 1938, Milwaukee County Stadium was built in the early 1950s in order to attract a major league team. The operation succeeded in spring training 1953 when the Boston Braves announced the move west to Wisconsin. Over the next 48 years, County Stadium became home to the Milwaukee Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, and for a very brief time, the Chicago White Sox. Being a Wisconsin book, there is also a requisite chapter on the Green Bay Packers. Until 1994, the Packers split their home schedule between Green Bay and Milwaukee.

By the time the Ken Keltner chapter hosted the SABR convention in July 2001, Milwaukee County Stadium had been demolished. Not only was 2001 the maiden campaign of Miller Park, but it also marked the centenary of the American League The SABR convention included a bus trip to Pere Marquette Park in downtown Milwaukee to celebrate the birthday of the junior circuit. Chuck Comiskey II had travelled north from Chicago to unveil an historical marker on the site of the Republican House Hotel. Meanwhile another Chuck – Chuck Brodsky – performed a baseball music concert. I may have been the only one who didn’t attend the unveiling ceremony, opting instead to spend time chatting with Hoffmann and former Brewers outfielder Gorman Thomas at a vendors’ table. Schlemiel, Schlimazel, Hassenpfeffer Incorporated!


SABR 32 – Boston, MA – 2002

Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu

Literary giant John Updike was 28 years old when on September 28, 1960, he took a break from his writing to attend a baseball game in his adopted hometown of Boston. It would be the final opportunity for the Fenway faithful to watch their hero clad in his flannel uniform wearing number 9. And he did not disappoint. With the Red Sox trailing the Baltimore Orioles by a score of 4-2, Ted Williams stepped to the plate with one out and bases empty. He sliced a Jack Fisher fastball over the centre field fence for his 521st and final home run.

Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu is a personal essay about Updike’s impressions of Ted Williams, focusing on his tenure with the Red Sox and his monumental final game. It was in the context of this essay that Updike penned the timeless phrase, “gods don’t answer letters.” Perhaps not, though it is worth noting that the Splendid Splinter uncharacteristically doffed his cap after the round tripper. Williams’ home run proved to be the margin of victory, as the Red Sox came from behind to win 5-4.

As the Boston chapter prepared to host the convention in 2002, Teddy Ballgame did not have much time left. Williams labelled SABR as “the best kept secret in baseball” as was the Society’s highest profile member. For the first time since 1971, a convention forewent the standard keynote address. Instead, the banquet was followed by a panel called “Talkin’ Ted Williams.” Moderated by Bill Nowlin, author of many books about ‘the Thumper and indeed his SABR biography, the panel held on June 29 featured Red Sox teammates Johnny Pesky and Dominic DiMaggio, along with Joe Cronin’s daughter Maureen.

Once again, the Hub fans had bid the Kid adieu. Ted Williams passed away less than one week later, on June 5, 2002. John Updike died seven years later, on January 27, 2009. A decade later, Bill Nowlin’s Ted Williams biography appears in The Team That Couldn’t Hit, a new book about the 1972 Texas Rangers which he co-edited with Steve West.

The Team That Couldn’t Hit (1)


SABR 34 – Cincinnati, OH – 2004

Red Legs and Black Sox

Red Legs and Black Sox: Edd Roush and the Untold Story of the 1919 World Series was Susan Dellinger’s second book. In 1989, Susan had written Communicating Beyond Our Differences, a business manual on how ‘Psychogeometics’ may manage office personalities to maximize effective teamwork. Fifteen years later in Cincinnati, Susan attended her first convention, along with her husband Bob. Roush, who in 1969 was voted the Greatest Reds’ Player of the Century, was born Oakland City, Indiana in 1893 and died suddenly at a spring training game in Florida in 1988. Red Legs and Black Sox focuses on the infamous 1919 World Series, ‘throwing’ complexities to narratives proposed in earlier tomes such as Eliot Asinof’s Eight Men Out. Susan relies upon interviews and other primary source material to offer Roush’s interpretation to what actually happened in 1919. The book alludes to possible fixes on both teams, associating certain individuals such as Hal Chase who were neither identified in the newspapers nor banned from baseball, and whether two Cincinnati pitchers were themselves corrupted by the gamblers.

If there was anyone to have the authority to write the life story of Edd Roush, it was Susan Dellinger. She happened to be Roush’s granddaughter. Susan participated in a Baseball Relatives panel in Cincinnati; two years later in Seattle, she gave a research presentation on her historiographical methods used in Red Legs and Black Sox. Also appearing on the Baseball Relatives panel were surviving family members of Cincinnati baseball legends Gus Bell, Ted Kluszewski, Cy Rigler, and Slim Sallee.

Bizarre as it may sound, as the Baseball Relatives panel was taking place, I was researching whether I would have qualified to participate. When my uncle, the late Sidney Green, passed away in April 2001, we were told in the rabbi’s eulogy that in 1944, he received a tryout with the Cincinnati Reds. If 15 year old Joe Nuxhall could graduate from high school to the Reds, then why not a 24 year old righthander with a proven record pitching in His Majesty’s service. The only problem was that we knew my uncle was a storyteller. None of his six surviving sisters had ever heard this story before and nowhere was the invitation ever written or documented. My curiosity directed me to write Irwin Weil, a professor of Slavic Studies at Northwestern University. Born in Cincinnati in 1928, Irwin was the son of Sidney Weil, who owned the Reds from 1929 to 1933. Irwin had a 101 year old aunt who had worked for the Red and could access their archives. Her name was Lee Levy and Irwin encouraged me to write her my research request. Was Sid Green ever invited to attend a tryout with the Reds? The results were returned inconclusive.

Edd Roush and the Class of ’62


SABR 35 – Toronto, ON – 2005

Diamonds of the North

The history of baseball in Toronto from 1886 to 2001 may be reviewed in just two books: Louis Cauz’ Baseball’s Back in Town and Eric Zweig’s Toronto Blue Jays’ Official 25th Anniversary Commemorative Book. When SABR awarded Toronto the convention for 2005, the host committee made it clear that it would celebrate baseball not just in ‘the Big Smoke’ but all across Canada.

Which is why I’ve selected Diamonds of the North by William Humber as the baseball book for SABR 35. Beginning in 1979, Bill Humber taught a community college course in Toronto called ‘Spring Training for Fans.’ He has written several books on baseball in Canada besides Diamonds, became the first Canadian to sit on SABR’s Board of Directors in 1983, and engineered the “Let’s Play Ball” exhibit at Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum in 1989. He was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018.

Written in 1995, Diamonds is best described as “a concise history of baseball in Canada.” The title even alludes to Donald Creighton’s Dominions of the North, which for decades was considered the definitive history of Canada. Besides chapters on the Toronto Blue Jays and the Montreal Expos, Diamonds explores minor league baseball ‘from sea to shining sea,’ Canadian members of the All American Girls’ Professional Baseball League, Canada’s role in the integration of baseball, a glossary of Canadian players – even a few words on Terry Puhl – and the Vancouver Asahi, an all-Japanese team which played from 1914 to 1941.

The Toronto convention featured presentations and delegates from all across Canada. George Bowering, a poet laureate from Penticton, British Columbia, attended the convention, as did John Carter of the St. John’s, Newfoundland Carters. Presentation subjects included the Canadian connection to the Black Sox Scandal, Elston Howard’s 1954 season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and yes, Bill Humber answering “How Baseball Explains Canada.” There was even a pancake breakfast with Sam Holman, the Ottawa man who sold his maple bats to Barry Bonds each winter.

If you ask Bill Humber to sign a copy of Diamonds, don’t be surprised if he inscribes it “Keep cheering for the home team.” On the surface, it might seem like an encouragement to support local sports. But no, he’s telling people not to throw away his first book, which was called Cheering for the Home Team!

Bill Humber and Cheering for the Home Team


SABR 36 – Seattle, WA – 2006

Becoming Big League

There have been several books written specifically about the Seattle Pilots. Most recently, Bill Mullins authored Becoming Big League: Seattle, the Pilots, and Stadium Politics. Mullins links the Pilots and their short history back to 1962, when dreams of a major league team emerged after Seattle hosted the World’s Fair. The American League gambled when in 1968, it placed an expansion franchise in Seattle. The ownership contingent, led by British Columbia-born Dewey and Max Soriano and underwritten by Cleveland railroad magnate William Daley, was grossly underfunded. The Pilots boasted the highest ticket prices at a time Boeing was slashing 25,000 jobs from the local economy. Protracted wrangling by local politicians about the construction of a domed facility relegated the Pilots to play in a moribund venue aptly named Sick’s Stadium. After finishing in last place in the American League West with a record of 64-98 in 1969, the Pilots did not know where they would open the 1970 season. Only on March 31, one week before Opening Day, was the decision made to transfer the Pilots to Milwaukee. The King County Domed Stadium was completed in 1976; only after the threat of an antitrust lawsuit did the American League vote to expand once again to Seattle for 1977.

The Pilots became a strong focus at the Seattle convention. Jim Bouton appeared both as the keynote speaker and as a member of the Seattle Pilots panel. Mike Marshall participated in the Collective Bargaining Agreement panel and also presented a workshop on kinesiology. Dave Baldwin, a systems engineer who went to spring training with the Pilots in 1970, presented a research project entitled “Nickel Patterns on Pitches,” while Pilots’ pitching coach Sal Maglie was the focus of a second research project.

A precis of Mullins’ book appears in Time for Expansion Baseball.


SABR 37 – St. Louis, MO – 2007

A Well-Paid Slave

One of the more popular topics of discussion at the St. Louis convention was a new book called A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood’s Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports. Written by Washington lawyer Brad Snyder, A Well-Paid Slave provides a thorough examination of the Flood v. Kuhn lawsuit. Born in Houston and raised in Oakland, the 31 year old Flood was at the top of his game in 1969. One morning in October, he was awoken by a telephone call from St. Louis sportswriter Jim Toomey. This is how Flood learned that the Cardinals had traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies. Flood sat out the entire 1970 season and forfeited his $100,000 salary in the process. Instead, he sued major league baseball on the grounds that the reserve clause violated federal antitrust laws. Ultimately, the Supreme Court voted to stand by things decided, ruling 5-3 (with one abstention) in favour of Major League Baseball.

Snyder appeared at the convention and copies of his book sold like hotcakes. Moreover, in 1993, two years before Flood passed away, George Will wrote a famous essay about the case called “Dred Scott in Spikes.” Dred Scott was a slave who in 1846, unsuccessfully sued his master, by the name of Sandford, on the grounds that he and his family had lived in Illinois and Wisconsin where slavery was illegal. The St. Louis court house where Scott v. Sandford was heard is located only blocks from the Adam’s Mark Hotel which hosted the St. Louis convention.

Tune in next month as we look at Part II.


Editorial Note: Thanks for another great piece of reporting, Maxwell Kates. Tax season or not, the world of baseball researchers and readers reap the dividends from your passionate investment in the history of the great game.

~ Bill McCurdy, The Pecan Park Eagle



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher






J.R. Richard on Ballot for Shrine of the Eternals

March 3, 2019

Bill McCurdy, John Storenski and J.R. Richard
~ 2003, following J.R.’s induction into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Baseball Reliquary, located in Southern California, but dedicated to the honor of baseball’s contributions to art and culture throughout the world. has announced  their fifty 2019 candidates for induction into the Shrine of the Eternals ~ their elite body of individuals who have made everything from the art and culture side of things in the history of baseball to the plainly unique and unusual, plus the overpowering statistical accomplishments, as well.

Voting is by all the contributing financial donors ($25.00 per year and up) by all who have paid their 2019 dues by March 31, 2019. Ballots will be e-mailed to the list of eligible voters on April 1, 2019, with the results then going into publication at the Baseball Reliquary website.

For further information about the 2019 voting plan, please check out this program link:

Terry Cannon. Executive Director
Minding the store at The Baseball Reliquary.

For all further information the Baseball Reliquary, please contact Executive Director Terry Cannon in one of the ways shown here:

Terry Cannon
Executive Director
The Baseball Reliquary
phone: (626) 791-7647

I’ve only been a member for a little over one year, but had followed their community education activities for most of the past decade. Unfortunately, I was not aware of The Baseball Reliquary in 2009, when our legendary Houston MLB founder and Astrodome contributor to so many baseball, other sport, and cultural events, Judge Roy Hofheinz, was listed as a candidate for “The Shrine”, but was not inducted and fell immediately off the ballot. ~ What! ~ What!! ~ What!!!

As we sometimes mutter in these parts, I’d have been on that omission “like a frog on a June bug” had I seen it earlier. ~ The Judge belongs in this Shrine. As soon as possible. And it isn’t yet April 1, 2019. There have to be a few SoCal printers out there that can handle the late addition of the man whose push for a domed air-cooled ballpark led to a venue that virtually continues to make the bed for how all sports in America are now played.

Not just “by the way”. ~ There is another name that is on the 2019 ballot who deserves and would get southwest, Houston, and southeast support ~ had “BR” suddenly received more mid-country voters than it now has. And that name is J.R. Richard!

Come on, Houston, help us out here!

         Note: When the actual 50-name ballots go out, voters may vote for up to 9 people on the list. Forgive me, but I do not have the details on how the list pares down to the actual inductee names. I’m thinking it’s probably on some kind of voter percentage formula, like the one used by the BBWAA and the Hall of Fame.

Please do give membership to the Baseball Reliquary your serious consideration. The work that Terry Cannon and his group is doing is simply larger than Los Angeles and the greater Southern California area. They need the bloodline of baseball that also includes Houston, Atlanta, St. Louis, Seattle, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago and Miami, et cetera.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher




Cy Young was the Real Deal Back in the Day

March 2, 2019

Cy Young

Cy Young. ~ His name is synonymous with so many things larger than life about pitching in the big leagues.

…. “Pitcher of the Year!” ~ What are the only two words we think of for the best two single pitchers of the season in each league on an annual basis? ~ They aren’t simply words. They’re a name. ~ “Cy Young” ~ short for “Cy Young Award” ~ the formal name that’s been given that isn’t even needed in full expression to convey the meaning of the following question as it passes between two baseball fans each late August. ~ “Whose taking the Cy Young this year?”

…. Cy Young was a member of the original 13-inductee 1937 first class of players chosen for the 1939 grand opening of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. ~ And why not? ~ His reasons for inclusion were far greater than a one-column synopsis could possibly cover. You may as well just go to Cy’s stat page at Baseball Reference .com and scope out all the data titles embossed in black to denote his all time leadership. The Cy Young page looks as though someone spilled a pepper shaker bottle on it as you were examining Cy Young’s deep and enduring list of great accomplishment.

…. Young’s 511 wins and 315 losses are both all time records, the kind that no one else is likely ever to break because of the way the game has so dramatically changed in a little over one century’s time. The wins are clearly attributable to Cy Young’s greatness during an era in which most winning pitchers completed more than half the games they started. The losses were just there as a bi-product tail of Young’s greatness as a winner.

…. Cy completed 749 of the 815 games he started. ~ both are career MLB records. He also pitched in relief in 91 games to bring his total games pitched to 906, but that is not the record in pitching appearances. Reliever Jesse Orosco holds the all-time game appearance mark with 1,252.

…. Mr. Young gave up 2,147 earned runs and 7,092 hits in 7,356.0 innings pitched ~ all for MLB career records ~ but he only surrendered 138 dead ball era home runs in 22 years and did finish with a career 2.63 ERA.

…. How’s this one for a busy afternoon thought? Cy Young also holds the MLB career record for most batters faced at a whopping total of 29,565. ~ Now that’s a lot of men with wood in their hands and malice in their hearts toward the long and short-haul of a pitcher’s best interests.

That’s OK. ~ Old Cy could give as well as he took. In 22 seasons, he won, at least, 20 games per season on 16 different occasions. It was mostly up from 20 when Cy went over that line ~ with a 5-season climb above 30 wins for the cyclonic wonder!

Nobody’s ever forgotten you, Cy Young, nor ever should they. Few also know too that during that first 20th century 1903 World Series contest between your Boston American league club and the Pittsburgh Nationals that you also helped out in the Bean Town ball park ticket booth during one of the games you were not scheduled to pitch.

And why not? Whether it was during the actual first World Series or at some other big attendance game during the regular season, you were helping your club out where you were needed that day, ~ were you not? ~ And that sometimes included handling the fans’ need for access to the ball park for the best available seats or places to stand among the overflowing throng of excited early era baseball supporters.

Bryce Harper

Wow! ~ What are the chances that Bryce Harper will ever help the Phillies punch tickets at the turnstiles a single time over the next 13 year-run of his gazillion dollar playing  contract? ~ Yes, we do know. It’s a different world today.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher








What I Loved About The Sporting News

February 28, 2019

Wearing the Face of Its Glory Years


We didn’t have anything like ESPN ~ or the Internet ~ or even like the future Pecan Park Eagle when I was a kid, growing up in Post World War II Houston, but ~ if we were lucky, we had a grandmother like Elizabeth McCurdy, down in Beeville, Texas ~ west of Victoria and east of Laredo ~ and north of Corpus Christi and south of San Antonio.

I never had a chance to meet my writer/newspaper man grandfather, William O. McCurdy, the originator, publisher and editor of a little South Texas buzz newspaper called The Beeville Bee because he had died a little more than 24 years prior to my 1937 birth, but I had grown up with Grandmother McCurdy ~ and she had accurately done the early call on my interest in reading, writing and baseball from my earliest of times in her company. And that led her to give me a birthday gift one year that grew into one of those gifts that keeps on giving over the years ~ even to this day.

On my 12th birthday, December 31, 1949, Grandmother sent me a card that said from now on, I would be receiving a once a week mail delivery of The Sporting News out of St. Louis, Missouri.

It was news that was only slightly more exciting to me than the news of Neil Armstrong setting foot on the surface of the moon ~ nearly 20 years later ~ in 1969. Back then, TSN came weekly in newspaper print and page sufficiency that would have been bulky enough to pass for a small city’s Sunday edition take on all the news in the world ~ and TSN was a baseball topic rag back then ~ for 12 months a year. Everything about the big leagues and minors ~ down to all that good and gooey statistical minutiae ~ it was always there to gleam one’s hungry eyes away ~ as, indeed, I invariably did ~ until social change ~ many years later ~ turned TSN into something I no longer cared to support.

None of that eventual demise matters now. Now one can see it again as it was in its time of baseball glory. And its pretty broadly available through an Internet source site called “Newspaper Archives” that is available to subscribers.

Here’s a link to a page on the Texas League from the August 1, 1951 edition:

(My apologies if the home site does anything that blocks your access.)

Some tidbits from Page 29 …

Low Run Totals/Fast Game Pace. A sidebar story shows how the 8 Texas League teams played 4 full games on July 20, 1951 and only scored a grand total of 11 runs in the process. ~ Two of the games resulted in shutouts and none of the four contests required more than one hour and fifty-five minutes to complete. ~ No one had to be concerned about the speed of play and clock solutions back in 1951. ~ So what has happened over the years since that time? ~ Did television commercials and the human ego’s need for attention ~ when they know the game camera is upon them ~ do all that damage to the pace of our beautiful game?

Harry Craft was the manager of the Beaumont Exporters in 1951. He’s only eleven years away from his historic role as Houston’s first major league manager of the 1962 Houston Colt .45s.

The 1951 Houston Buffs (70-43, .619) have an 8-game lead over the Beaumont Exporters (61-50, .550) for first place in the Texas League race. The Buffs will finish first and win the playoffs for the 1951 Texas League pennant, but they will go on to lose the Dixie Series to the Birmingham Barons.

Buff Pitchers Looking Good. Through July 25, 1951, Buff Reliever DIck Bokelmann (9-1, .900) sports the best winning percentage record in the ’51 TL season. Buff Starter Octavio Rubert (13-4, .765) ranks 5th and Buff Starter Al Papai (15-8, .652) ranks 8th as the race heads into the stretch.

Buff Hitters? Not So Much. Over the same stat period, the Houston Buffs don’t have a single .300 hitter. Buff Third Baseman Eddie Kazak is the 1951 TL’s 20th best percentage hitter (71 for 249) at .285.

Kudos to 1951 San Antonio Missions 3rd Baseman Jim Dyck for his July 22nd contribution to a 9-run 8th inning his club had against the Shreveport Sports in their 16-1 runaway win. Dyck blasted 2 home runs in the big inning. In the same sidebar, TSN notes that back on August 3, 1930, Gene Rye of Waco set the TL record for most HR in one inning by a single batter when he crunched 3 round-trippers in the 8th inning of a game against Beaumont. ~ Almost, almost unbelievable!

That’s it~ But only because other duties call. ~ I could sit on this single page and churn out stuff like you see here for the next 24 hours and still be scrambling when you called to remind me that time was up.

Anyway, good luck on the page access. If that does not work for you as a non-member, simply visit the site and take advantage of their look-see free opportunity to check out the place for yourself.

If you get in, all I can add is ~ Welcome to the history playground! ~ Allow leisure fun time to begin by turning your search options open to your own imagination.

What a way to spend the day!



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

Indoor Baseball, Chicago Style, From 1887

February 27, 2019

This 1897 image is the earliest known photo of an indoor baseball team.

There’s a very interesting article by a fellow named Jeff Nichols in the January 30, 2019 Chicago Reader about the origins of a baseball derivative sport they called “indoor baseball” on the south side of Chicago back in 1887. It is, so far, the best description I’ve ever found on the root causes of the game’s invention and how the regular game of baseball had to be modified to work indoors – in spaces that were never designed to handle the zoom-and-go flight of an actual baseball ~ even in the deadball era.

I already knew that my birthplace home town of Beeville ~ along with several other small South Texas cities ~ had played a game they called “indoor baseball” for a brief time in the early 20th century. I just could not discover or envision how they could have played anything close in resemblance to the real game of baseball in the kinds of very small and limited spaces available to them at the Bee County Fairgrounds.

Nichols’ article answers any serious questions I may have harbored. It was more like stick ball, if the game were being played out in the lobby of a very small hotel.

It’s still a good read ~ and interesting to learn that a very young George Halas, the NFL icon founder and longtime coach of the Chicago Bears ~ along with his older brother, Walter Halas, ~ were two of the south side boys who also helped get indoor baseball off to a somewhat less roaring start.

The three photos from the article make it seem so much more real as something that actually happened. The first photo at the top features the oldest known photo of an indoor team. The next photo below features the Halas boys. The the last photo below speaks for itself on why indoor baseball never started a wildfire fan base.


The 1910 Crane High School team; the glum kid holding the ball in the front row is George Halas, the founder of the Chicago Bears. Above George is his older brother Walter, the captain of the team.


Young women playing indoor baseball in Pilsen


Indoor baseball had a few brief runs in Texas during the early 20th century, but it lit no flames in the hearts and minds of Texans either until 1965 ~ when Judge Roy Hofheinz, the Houston Astros, and the Houston Astrodome came along and showed the world what had to be in place for the game of baseball to go viral in its support for the true indoor version.

If you want indoor baseball, you have to play the game in a place that feels like “The Eighth Wonder of the World!”



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher


Take Me Out To The Whatchamacallit

February 26, 2019

Turn of the Century songwriter Jack Norworth was supposedly inspired by a sign he saw while riding a subway back in 1908 that said “Baseball Today – Polo Grounds” to write the lyrics to “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” ~ a poem that became a song when tune writer Albert Von Tilzer put a melody to it that allowed the little piece to rapidly soar into high regard as the unofficial anthem of baseball ~ an estimation of the piece hat continues strongly through this day. Funny thing is ~ neither Norworth nor Tilzer had ever seen a baseball game in person until after they wrote the song that made their efforts famous.

Makes you wonder. What if Norworth had seen a sign outside the subway that advertised “Horse Racing Today ~ Belmont” ~ or maybe even “Boxing Tonight ~ Madison Square Garden?”

Those two might have come close to fitting into the same Tilzer tune and become the anthems of two sucker bet sports.

Take Me Out To The Horse Track

Secretariat, 1973
Going for the Triple Crown

Take Me Out To The Horse Track!

Belmont’s the name of the game!

Buy me a tote sheet and paper to win!

I wouldn’t mind if you put up the fin!


We’ll get rich, so rich, at the horse track!

Some will lose ~ and ain’t that a shame!





Take Me Out To The Garden

Gentleman Jim Corbett


Take Me Out To The Garden!

Madison Square is its name!

Buy me a ringside for Corbett-McCoy!

Gentle Jim nails Kid in 5 ~ beef ahoy!


We’ll come back ~ to view all the others,

Spilling brains, guts, nuts, butts and druthers,

In the ring of those Garden fight mothers,

When unconscious was the aim of the game ~ and still is.



Have a nice day, everybody, and remember to look out the window every now and then. You never know where or when you may catch the fire of inspiration or invitation or both ~ looking straight back into your eyes and aiming directly at you alone. ~ Why is that important? ~ It’s because some of those opportunities are a one-time only open door. And don’t worry. All of us miss some of them. ~ You just don’t want to miss all of them.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher


Softballer Hits for Beyond Rare HR Cycle

February 25, 2019

Danielle Gibson
Arkansas Razorbacks
Hit for Rare HR Cycle
Saturday, February 23, 2019


Writer Dave Kovaleski put it this way: “In her team’s 15-3 win over Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, (Arkansas) Razorbacks sophomore (Danielle) Gibson became the first player in NCAA Division I softball history to hit for a rare type of cycle — the home run cycle — according to the Razorbacks’ athletics website. That means she hit solo, 2-run and 3-run blasts, plus a grand slam, in the same game.”

Rare? Beyond rare is more like it. In fact “unheard of” is the phrase that best frames it on the phenom-stage. As a college softball event, it’s never happened before in a single game, although we are now johnny-come-lately aware of the fact that it has happened once to another female college softball player, but that girl needed both games of a DH to get it done on the same day. Gibson’s heroics were hardly stretched. She got it done ~ one homer per inning each in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th frames for the 4 homers and its 10 RBIs.

This kind of very special HR cycle has never occurred in big league baseball, according to my phenom-swarm expert authorities.

Flying off the bat of Danielle Gibson
There Goes One of the Four Taking Flight,

In Danielle Gibson’s case, she hit a 2-run homer in the 1st; a 3-run homer in the 2nd; a Grand Slam homer in the 3rd; and then finished the circuit job with a solo homer in the 4th. ~ Maybe next time she’ll get it in perfect solo, 2, 3. and 4 runs order in alignment over the first four innings.

Check out these two links on the event with your own eyes.

Rounding 3rd,
Heading for Home,
She’ll Hit Three More,
For a Full House Roam!


And thank you, Mike McCroskey, for being the first to call this rather formidable accomplishment to my attention.



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

RIP, Don Newcombe

February 21, 2019

Don Newcombe

The great Don Newcombe is gone. Dead at age 92, the baseball world has once more surrendered, one more time, one of the last great figures of that 1946-57 period in which the Brooklyn Dodgers, more than any other MLB club, steamed over the color line that barred identified blacks ~ or negroid coloreds ~ from playing professional baseball with so-called identified whites.

Jackie Robinson, of course, broke the professional white baseball color line in 1946 as a Dodger prospect and player for their farm club, the Montreal Royals. He then broke it again at the major league level for the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers. Then came guys like catcher Roy Campanella and pitcher Don Newcombe to make the Dodger commitment to superior pay for superior talent ~ regardless of color ~ the bell of fairness that would ring for everyone over ignorance, prejudice, and racist hate.

Don Newcombe also was one of my special heroes for the way he could just take over a game whenever he started out by just blowing away the first three batters he faced. As a 15-year-old, I even got to see him do his magic in person one time ~ and even if it happened in a not too serious game ~ I shall treasure the memory and thank my dad for it ~ forever.

Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe, who was in the military at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio in 1953, was spending a lot of his time pitching for the site’s semi-pro level baseball team. I was 15 when my one chance to see Newcombe pitch came up. We lived in Houston, of course, but this opportunity was about to arise in the most unlikely place I could think of, given the added fact that it was not going to be in our big city home town.

It happened like this:

One day, dad read in his US Mail subscription to the Beeville Bee-Picayune (That’s the newspaper started by his father and my grandfather) that the Brooke Field San Antonio club was coming down to our original home town with plans to pitch Newcombe against the Beeville Blue Jays at the Bee County Fair Grounds Park on the following Sunday.

To make it short, that set us in motion on a family trip to Grandmother McCurdy’s house on the 180-miles one-way trip to Beeville, driving southwest from Houston to Beeville for the game down US Highway 59. Dad, my 11 year old brother John and I went to see the game on Sunday afternoon. Mom and our nearly 2-year old baby sister, Margie, stayed with Grandmother McCurdy while we were busy with baseball stuff.

As for the game, it was more like a keg party that only once-in-a-while broke into some kind of serious baseball game. And it was always Newk’s team that supplied the “serious” part of any offensive explosion. The more the game wore on that day under the simmering hot South Texas sun, the more players on both sides started beer-quenching their thirsts and best abilities for the game of baseball.

By the middle innings, Brooke Medical held a commanding double digit lead over Beeville’s double-aught nothing-doing total in runs or hits scored. In the four or five innings that Newcombe worked from the mound, I cannot remember the Blue Jays so much as coming up with a loud foul off “Newk”. A couple of Beeville boys took some hard rib plunks ~ and maybe one walked. The rest of them haplessly struck out.  ~ Then mid-way into the game, Newk took himself out of “the game”, but he remained in the lineup in right field ~ just in case.

The final score escapes memory. Brooke had close to 20 runs; Beeville had a couple of 8th or 9th inning “mercy” runs off somebody not named Newcombe. And the separate two-team beer party joined together as one happy-in-shared dehydration mob. The younger Beeville players seemed to gather around Don Newcombe post-game like little ducks ~ just soaking up advice too from the big league giant as he laughed and pointed out things to each of them as they did a post-game “shoot-the-shot” with each other ~ (or something like that.)

Don Newcombe could have destroyed a lot of Beeville baseball hopefuls that day, but he chose not to do so. I left there at game’s end with more respect for him than ever. I was too young to see whatever problems he might later have with alcohol, but that’s how addictions work. ~ I don’t think Newk saw them coming his way either, but that seems to be the way substance addictions take control. By the time you realize you have an addiction, it already has you.

Fortunately for the great Don Newcombe, his eventual recovery from his later problems with alcohol would be a gift that passed him on to those he also mentored as something like a “life crisis lessons teacher” ~ and his actions in the world in this regard stood taller as a triumph ~ and far greater than all the good stuff he ever did on the mound as one of the great hard ball throwing pitchers in baseball history.

Rest in Love and Peace, Don Newcombe!

Here’s the obituary link, plus another link about his time in San Antonio:



Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher